Duke Energy Raises $1.5 Billion From Florida Residents, Refuses To Build Nuclear Plant, Keeps The Money

Duke Energy Corp. raised $1.5 billion from Florida residents with the promise to build a new nuclear power plant, but now the utility company has decided to shutter those plans and keep the money instead.

A state representative announced Thursday that Duke Energy was killing its $24.7 billion project to build a nuclear power plant. To support the plant the company had been billing fees to Levy County residents, raising $1.5 billion to support the project.

Duke Energy decided in February to close the Crystal River nuclear power plant in Florida after workers cracked a containment building during upgrades in 2009. Crews tried to fix the problem in 2011, but it only resulted in more cracks.

The company will be able to avoid public hearings on the botched upgrades, which have left customers with a $1.7 billion bill.

On Friday anger built among customers and lawmakers who believed that Duke Energy misled customers.

“Shame on Duke Energy, Progress Energy for taking the public on this ride knowing that they were never going to build the nuclear plants. Shame on them,” said State Representative Mike Fasano.

Duke Energy said delays by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in issuing licenses for the new plant led to the decision to call off the plans. But the company said it could still pursue a license for the plant.

“We continue to believe that the Levy site is a viable option for future nuclear generation and we want to keep that option open,” said Alex Glenn, Duke Energy’s state president in Florida.

Duke officials said they need to look at a number of factors to see if “new nuclear generation makes sense.”

Duke Energy doesn’t seem to be too hurt be the scandal. The company’s stock rose 51 cents on Thursday to $71.51 a share.